The Pain of Being Left Out

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Science  10 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5643, pp. 193l
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5643.193l

Does the experience of pain associated with social exclusion engage the same brain structures (the anterior cingulate cortex) that mediate the affective responses to physical pain? Eisenberger et al. (p. 290; see the Perspective by Panksepp) tested the hypothesis by telling subjects that they would play a computer game with other individuals. They were then either passively excluded from the game while they watched (due to alleged technical problems), or were actively excluded from play after participating. Comparison of activity in the active exclusion versus inclusion conditions revealed greater activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, which correlated with subsequent self-reporting of distress during exclusion.


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